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Stars: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham

Director: Zack Snyder

'A poor man's made out of muscle and blood' runs the old song, and there's plenty of both on display in this highly-stylised, pop-art version of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, when 300 highly-trained Spartans slaughtered 20,000 of a huge invading Persian army before succumbing to massively superior numbers.

'We must consult the Oracle,' quavers a Spartan mystic elder. But King Leonidas (Butler) is having none of that, and prepares to show that a few hundred super-fit warriors can take on the world.

These Spartans may also be frugal, but, boy, they're tough. Struck down with a fearsome injury, Dilios (Wenham) tells Leonidas: 'It's just an eye. The Lord saw fit to leave me with a spare.' Reference to The Lord in 480 BC? Hmm. We'll let it pass - this is comic-book history, after all (hewing closely to Frank Miller's graphic novel), full of visceral action and impressive CGI effects, especially when it comes to the Persian fleet being hit by a storm.

The Spartans do seem to collapse rather abruptly at the end, but by then even the most bloodthirsty will probably feel that enough is enough.

David Quinlan

USA/Canada 2007. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 Mar 2007